Here Come the Pests!



Because of potential impact on agriculture, tourism and other aspects of the

economy, controlling the wide variety of pests is vital to the Grand Traverse region.

Whether it’s crawling critters, skunks, moles or voles, pesky pests can definitely

impact quality of life for locals and visitors alike.

But when it comes to repressing pests this summer, all the buzz is about controlling

mosquitoes, according to an informal survey of local pest control professionals.

“Mosquitoes are going to be bad this year,” predicted Don Cobb, owner of Cobb’s

Pest Control. “Ninety percent of my work is spraying and 90 percent of it is for

spiders and mosquitoes.”

Located on Keystone Road, just south of Traverse City, Cobb’s Pest Control has been

serving clients across the region since 2000.

Cobb said because of heavy snow followed by substantial spring rain folks should be

aware of standing water and get rid of it whenever possible.

“Water pools up in empty tires, kids swimming pools, ditches, all of that is a

breeding ground for mosquitoes,” he said. “Homeowners can do themselves a favor

by getting rid of that water.”

According to the Michigan Mosquito Control Association (MMCA), mosquitoes,

like other insects, have a development life cycle from the egg to the adult stage.

Mosquito eggs are laid singly or in clusters in water or in mud and debris near

water. The larvae hatch and develop in water through four stages before they

emerge from the pupal stage and fly away.

Males feed on nectar and do not bite for blood. Female mosquitoes require a meal

of blood to develop their eggs and may bite several times during their lives. The

females not only feast on humans, but other animals including birds, mammals,

amphibians and reptiles.

Spraying of insecticides is a common method to control adult mosquitoes, according

to the MMCA. Over large fields, a sprayer can “cold fog” a region by using a small

amount of insecticide, generally about 1 ounce per acre. In Michigan, malathion,

sumithrin and permethrin work well against adults. None are very toxic to non-
target organisms when used at the labeled dosages.

A second approach involves using thermal fogs. This technique requires heating the

insecticide along with another combustible material, such as kerosene or oil, thus

creating a fog. According to MMCA, this method can be effective in areas ranging

from a backyard to a farm field.

A third method of control involves “harborage” or “barrier” techniques. This

involves spraying a dilution of malathion or other insecticide onto vegetation

surrounding the area to be protected. This is often used in parks, backyards,

cemeteries, golf courses and other open areas. The insecticide provides a residual of

active ingredient on the plant leaves. When mosquitoes fly to the plants, they land

and die or are repelled.

Mosquito control has kept workers busy at Williamsburg-based Chemical Control

Co., according to office manager Heather Copeland. “This time of year we’ve

been busy dealing with mosquitoes and spiders,” she said. “We also specialize in

carpenter ants and spiders, all types of crawling insects. Later in the year we deal

with a lot of wasps. And we always get calls for mice, northern Michigan has a lot of


Nuisance Animal Control, based in Interlochen, is owned and operated by Roy Reed.

He’s been kept busy this spring helping homeowners plagued by moles and voles;

both are pests that can do plenty of subterranean damage to a lawn or field.

“We’ve experienced a lot of mole and vole work,” said Reed. “We prefer to live

trap and remove them to property in Interlochen, but sometimes we have to use

poison. We’ve also had a lot of calls for squirrels. They’re almost a rat-infestation

in downtown Traverse City. They can do a lot of damage because they’ll chew on

electrical wires.”